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Every time I look at a list of bestselling novels headlining literary ratings, it makes me want to shrivel. I do not need to tell you what is popular nowadays—you probably know already, and if you are like me, you do not like it. Instead, I’d rather focus on something positive. For this post, I’ve composed a list of the bestselling novels of all times—my subjective list of masterpieces.
- The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- The Catcher in the Rye by Jerome Salinger
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Perfume by Patrick Suskind
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Under the foliage of a fairy tale, there hides a deep and meaningful parable about adulthood and childhood, friendship, the way people live their lives, think, and act. A story of a lonely boy and a lonely fox, who accidentally meet each other, is woven into beauty and sadness. A truly wonderful book everyone should read.
A bird named Jonathan, discouraged by the meaningless life of other birds, who uses flight simply to find food, commits effort to self-improve and find the meaning of its own life through flight. The novel is a manifest for love and freedom, and remains a bestseller more than 40 years after its first publication.
A sensation in the literature of the 2000s, the Harry Potter series were the books on which a whole generation grew up. Harry Potter’s popularity, however, is not decreasing, and will probably never go down.
One of the most controversial novels of the 21st century. A thriller detective story developing around the search for the Saint Grail, it has a plot and intrigue involving the Catholic Church, the Templars Order, religious beliefs, historical white spots, and all these storylines unite in the end, forming a powerful and logical culmination.
Holden Caulfield, the main character of the novel, can fairly be called the symbol of teenage riot, and adolescence in general. A smart and non-conformist young man, too outstanding to be easily accepted by the majority of his peers (and sometimes even adults) reflects on the main values of the world he lives in, mocks elitism and social rules, falls in love, and gets disappointed. This novel is a time machine able to take you back to the times when you were 17, and when the world had no shades between black and white.
A true gem of historical fiction, “The Name of the Rose” is a detective story that unfolds in the 14th century in a Benedectine monastery. A Franciscan scholar, William of Baskerville, and his companion arrive to the monastery to participate in a theological dispute. At this time, Benedectine monks start dying under mysterious circumstances. The atmosphere, the way the author plays with semiotics, the way he appeals to historical figures, and how he interprets historical events make this novel a masterpiece.
This novel, first published in 1936, has become a renowned classic. The plot describes the events taking place in America’s southern states during the period of 12 years, and focuses on Scarlett O’Hara—a half-Irish half-French beauty with a complicated and intense life—and Rhett Butler, a rich man with a bad reputation. The intricacies of their relationship shape out one of the most romantic and tragic stories in 20th century literature.
Perhaps the most famous among the dystopian novels written in the previous century—and, obviously, the darkest of them. If you want to know what a totalitarian state is, if you feel like governments are lying to people, if you want a serious, realistic novel full of suspense and psychological tension, 1984 is a must-read for you.
People seem to underestimate the role that smell plays in our everyday life. We tend to consciously notice only those smells that are clearly pleasant or unpleasant; however, we ignore thousands of gradients, half-shades, and semi-tones of smells. “Perfume” is about an ignorant young murderer raised in inhumane conditions, but with an undisputed ability to sense odors, whose dream was to become a perfumer.
A more contemporary variation on Kafka, Catch-22 is a story of a soldier, Yossarian, desperately trying to return home from war. However, it is not the battles that hold him, but the bureaucracy and paradoxical irrationality of the bureaucratic machine. A seemingly easy way to be dismissed from the army is to submit a document proving one’s insanity; this is precisely what Yossarian does, hoping to finally return to a peaceful life. However, he did not know about catch number 22—an amendment claiming that all those who claim their insanity are sane, otherwise they would not suspect themselves to be mentally sick.
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